Liberty United Methodist Church
1845 - 1998

A history of the church written for the Dedication Service
April 19, 1998
by Bessie A. Shelton

The land on which Liberty United Methodist Church now stands was deeded for the purpose of building a church by Roger Simpson in the year 1845.

The first church building was built of hewn logs by hand. The logs were sawed by an old whip saw and tied together at the top by a huge yellow poplar log. The seats were made of logs sawed into thick pieces and supported by pegs driven in the underside for legs. The pulpit was a boxlike arrangement. The people of the community pitched in to help build the church. Those that took a big part in the building were Roger Simpson, Willis Whitfield, Thomas Campbell, John James, Messrs. Riddle, Vinson and many others whose names we were unable to obtain.

In spite of the crudeness of the building, wilderness roads, and practically no means of communication except the "grapevine method," the congregations were always large. The hillside was covered by wagons, mules, horses, and buggies that were used as means of transportation. Many of the women came to church on horseback and used the high rocks surrounding the grounds to mount and dismount their horses. Mrs. Charles Hastings, who was a devout member, rode horseback to church every Sunday at the age of eighty and thought nothing of it.

In years past Liberty Church was a great place for revival meetings when hundreds of people gave their heart to God. Many shouts of praise went up to Him. There were no night services in the early days, but preaching services continued all day with dinner served on the flat rocks as tables. Revival services continued from one to three weeks including Sundays. Before revival meetings began the church floor was covered thickly with straw by Mr. Simpson's slaves. When the babies and small children went to sleep they were placed on the straw for their naps. The old log building was replaced in 1886. That large frame building is being used today. The first minister to conduct services in the new bulding in 1886 was Rev. John Kellum.

Through the years the church and its people have seen sad times and good times. When money was needed to meet some expenses the whole community always pitched in and helped out with ice cream suppers and other projects. One year Mr. and Mrs. Edward Potts gave the church a cotton patch to work and use the proceeds to do repairs on the church.

In the early 1970's the new Sunday School rooms were finally built. Many people put forth much work and effort to get the new addition. Mr. and Mrs. William Potts gave the folding doors to divide the room into smaller ones. Mr. Fred Elder bought carpet and drapes for the new addition. Someone liked the drapes so well, they took them off the windows that very night. More had to be bought to replace them. This new addition is used many ways. We now have a place for our Sunday School classes; also it is used for meetings, and on special occasions when the weather is bad meals are served there. This addition does not distract from the simple beauty of the dear old church that means so much to all who have grown up here. After Rev. W. C. Folks retired in the late 1950's, he built the beautiful velvet covered chair and the cross that hangs above the pulpit. Today, instead of the old organ, there is a piano, and the straight back chairs in the choir are still in use.

There were some improvements made both outside and inside the church in 1986 and 1987. We completed repairs on the church, such as siding, windows, and new pews. All of the pews were donated in memory or honor of families and loved ones of the church. Donations were also used to purchase a new piano and hymnals and to refinish the choir chairs. These changes took a lot of work on the part of many people, and so many others helped by making generous contributions.

In 1995 central heat and air was put in the church. This was done through donations and proceeds from a bean supper, auction of crafts, and other things donated by different businesses and friends. We appreciate all the help we had from everyone. We are so fortunate to have so many friends who are interested in this "Little Church in the Wildwood."

The members of the Liberty United Methodist Church gratefully acknowledge the gift of the church organ donated by Charles Carey American Home Entertainment's Company, Prospect, Tennessee, October 10, 1996.

A beautiful stained glass window of the cross and crown was installed in 1997 in memory of Vachel and Mary Townsend Elder. This started everyone thinking of replacing all of the windows. Five of the windows were donated in memory or honor of family members. The other three windows were paid for by other members and friends of the church.

Liberty Church has been blessed with many fine families and good ministers throughout its long history. It has sent out numerous young people into the world with the love of the Lord in their hearts. The late Rev. James H. Elder entered the ministry from Liberty Church. The member belonging to Liberty Church the longest is Mrs. Orlean Potts, who joined in 1919.

Through the past one hundred fifty-three years, Liberty Church has stood as a symbol of good and as a reminder of God's grace as the shining light in this world. May Liberty Church always be the center for those who have moved through its doors and a welcoming beacon throughout the years. May it be a reminder to the world of the words of Jesus Christ from almost two thousand years ago that He is the light of the world, the bread of life, and that His power and goodness survive when all others fail.

Liberty Church has been blessed with many dedicated pastors through the years. We have attempted to list as many as we have been able to find on record and the approximate dates served from 1897 to 1998.

PASTORS Dates of Service
Rev. J. J. Malloy 1897-1898
Rev. W. B. S. Owings 1899-1900
Rev. R. M. Chenault 1900-1902
Rev. G. M. Gardner 1902-1904
Rev. J. M. Oakley 1904-1906
Rev. J. B. Cheek 1906-1908
Rev.W. H. Baird 1908-1910
Rev. Allen Miller 1910-1912
Rev. John Kellum 1912-1914
Rev. George Allen 1914-1916
Rev. J. K. Lee 1916-1918
Rev. W. L. Harwell 1918-1920
Rev. Robert Wait 1920-1922
Rev. J. L. Taylor 1922-1924
Rev. W. L. Harwell 1924-1932
Rev. J. C. Elkins 1932-1936
Rev. B. H. Brandon 1936-1942
Rev. J. E. Trotter 1942-1944
Rev. J. C. Elkins 1944-1948
Rev. Troy Bunch 1948-1950
Rev. Elwood Denson 1950-1952
Rev. W. C. Folks 1952-1957
Rev. Sam Webster 1957-1959
Rev. John W. Bradford 1959-1962
Rev. R. R. Langston 1962-1964
Rev. Tom Smith 1964-1966
Rev. Rudolph Janes 1966-1968
Rev. Willie B. Nunnley 1968-1970
Rev. Marcus Nickell 1970-1972
Rev. Ben Alford 1972-1975
Rev. James C. Hughes 1975-1977
Rev. W. H. Moss 1975-1983
Rev. Gary Mraz 1983-1983
Rev. Larry C. Layne 1983-1984
Rev. Ben Chapman 1984-1985
Rev. Brian Fyte 1985-1986
Rev. Paul Ford 1986-1988
Rev. Turman Hibbit 1988-1991
Rev. Larry Fletcher 1991-1997
Rev. Jay Shoup 1997-1998

Note: Portions of this information was obtained from the History of Methodist Churches and Institutions in Middle Tennessee, edited by Cullen T. Carter; The Liberty Church Register, and parishioners.

Submitted by:Janice Weihs